Tips for living with a chronic illness

For the past few days, I’ve been curled up in bed suffering from a pretty nasty flare-up of my endometriosis. While I experience symptoms nearly every day, it’s been a few weeks where I’ve had to take time off work and do nothing but stay in bed.

I’m going stir-crazy, I’m fed up and I can’t help but feel like my mental health has taken another step back. I’ve been feeling positive since the new year, wanting to beat my condition and be all ‘get up and go’ about it, but these past few days have left me feeling all sorts of sorry for myself.

But something has changed. I’ve already suffered through the worst and I have come out the other side. I know this flare-up isn’t going to last, and while I know that it could come back, I’m in a much better place, mentally, to be able to tackle it. So while living with a chronic illness can be debilitating, here are a few tips for you (and me) to try and make it more manageable.

The worst of the pain, won’t last forever. 

I suffer daily from pain, but when I have a flare-up, the daily pain is nothing, in comparison. When you are suffering from the most painful of pains, it can seem endless. But it does dull, eventually. You’ll feel like death would be a mercy, but trust me, you’ve survived in the past and you didn’t die. You can do it.

If you can, do tasks that are mentally stimulating

I understand that this one isn’t always manageable, but if you are able to drag yourself out of the fetal position than do. Being bed-bound sucks and daytime TV can make you feel like your brain cells are slowly dying too. Read a book rather than watch TV or scroll from Instagram, do something productive but not strenuous (I organised my photo albums), or cook a simple dinner. Even do the washing up, if you can. You really won’t want to, but you’re going to be curled in bed for most of the day, so its good to have a break from all that bed rest.

A shower can make you feel somewhat normal 

This is another one that I never want to do, but I should remember that I *always* feel better after taking a shower. Just being clean and having fresh pyjamas on may not make the pain go away, but that fresh feeling will improve your mood. Or if you can’t manage to stand for that long, a wash of your face and a brush of your teeth can work wonders.

Carbs and chocolate are good, but vegetables too! 

This one is kinda self-explanatory. Food is the last thing on your mind when in pain, and you often reach for the most convenient thing. Junk food has its place, but make sure you chuck in something green too. Soup is a good one, vegetables without the effort!

When you can, do. 

Last year I was guilty of letting my illness define me. But it doesn’t, and on the days when I could have gone out, socialised or just let myself breath some fresh air, I didn’t. It was easier to curl up and wallow. But that’s not really how I want to live anymore, so on the days where I am capable, I’m going to make damn sure I take advantage of them. The days where I can’t do anything but suffer, suck. So I am not planning on wasting the days when I’m not suffering, and you shouldn’t either.

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